Confined field trials (CFTs) are conducted to inform environmental risk assessments that are required by regulatory authorities before genetically engineered crops can be approved and released for cultivation. Many countries expect CFTs to be conducted as a matter of course, even if satisfactory data are already available from trials conducted elsewhere. The scientific basis for requiring duplicative trials is questionable, but policy and perception issues make accepting data from other countries difficult for many regulators. The primary variable that differentiates CFT locations is agroclimate, which means that data from trials cultivated in like agroclimates should be considered relevant and sufficient to satisfy regulatory requirements, irrespective of the country where the CFTs are conducted. Since the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute’s publication of a conceptual framework for data transportability in the journal Transgenic Research in 2014, it has continued to make significant effort to progress this work beyond theory to practical application.

Current Work

Collaborators & Partners

Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), University of British Columbia, and the University of Edinburgh

Following recommendations from an expert working group convened to advance the data transportability program, the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute worked with a geospatial data scientist to produce a simple-to-use online tool that allows users to visualize agroclimate zonations and their relationships to CFT locations. The Agriculture & Food Systems Institute’s Global Environmental Zones (GEnZ) Explorer is a simple-to-use online tool that allows users to visualize agroclimatic zonations and their relationships to CFT locations. For any of the 20 included crops, the tool can identify environments at the country, regional, or global level that are important for cultivation to help determine where to best locate CFTs and maximize data utility.


Data Transportability for COMESA Workshop

Hosted by the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute, in partnership with COMESA and ASARECA, this workshop introduced the online GEnZ Explorer tool, which allows confined field trial (CFT) locations to be characterized with respect to agroclimatic zones to facilitate data transportability of CFTs.

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Confined Field Trial (CFT) Data Transportability Workshop

This workshop introduced the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute’s CFT data transportability tool to members of the African agricultural biotechnology community seeking to make more efficient use of resources for evaluating genetically engineered plant biosafety.

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Application of Data Transportability in the Environmental Risk Assessment of Genetically Engineered Plants

The Agriculture & Food Systems Institute and ILSI Japan co-organized a workshop on November 7 in Tokyo.

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Data Transportability – Sharing Field Trial Data Across Geographies

The Agriculture & Food Systems Institute co-organized a brown bag lunch with the World Bank titled “Rationalizing Regulations and Reducing Cost: Data Transportability – Sharing Field Trial Data Across Geographies.”

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Transportability of Confined Field Trial Data for Environmental Risk Assessment of Genetically Engineered Plants: A Conceptual Framework

It is commonly held that confined field trials (CFTs) used to evaluate the potential adverse environmental impacts of a genetically engineered (GE) plant should be conducted in each country where cultivation is intended, even when relevant and potentially sufficient data are already available from studies conducted elsewhere.

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